As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been tied up getting ready for an oral argument I had today before the Third Court of Appeals here in Austin. The case is not the kind you would usually get that excited about, but we have a couple of good legal issues, and it got a fair amount of media attention when it was tried. (I wasn’t involved at that stage.) More media coverage could be coming, depending on what happens with the appeal.
As I prepared, I was reminded of the things that make oral argument great. Today, a big part of it was getting my client her day in court. Then there is the thrill of back-and-forth dialogue with the appellate justices on narrow legal issues that wouldn’t interest most people.
But one of my favorite aspects of oral argument is that it forces you to distill your case down to the barest elements. As the appellant, if you can’t persuade the court based on your best two or three points—which should all be covered thoroughly in your brief—you’re probably going to lose. As the appellee, the key is to identify and emphasize the reasons why the court should leave well enough alone. Whichever side I’m on, it’s a process I always enjoy.